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Life-Cycle Labor Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

The five-fold increase in the labor force participation rate of married women over the last half century was not accompanied by a substantial increase in the average job market experience of working women. Two data sets giving life-cycle labor force histories for cohorts of women born from the 1880s to 1910s indicate substantial (unconditional) heterogeneity in labor force participation. Married women in the labor force had a high degree of attachment to it; increased participation rates brought in women with little prior job experience and reduced cumulated years experience. According to extant schedules froma 1939 Women's Bureau Bulletin, 86% of married women born around 1895 and working in 1939 had been employed 50% of the years since beginning work, and 47% had worked 88% of those years. Average years of experience for cross sections of working married women hardly increased from 1920 to 1950, rising from 9 to 10.5 years. Because wages are calculated only for currently employed individuals, the steadiness in relative wages of women to men over this period may result from stable experience ratings for employed married women. An exploration of the determinants of labor force persistence points to the importance of occupational choice early in the work history of a woman and to the rise in clerical and professional occupations in extending life-cycle labor force participation.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin, 1983. "Life-Cycle Labor Force Participation of Married Women: Historical Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 1251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1251 Note: DAE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1973. "Labor-Force Participation Rates and the Supply of Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 697-704, May-June.
    3. Heckman, James J & Willis, Robert J, 1977. "A Beta-logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 27-58, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lynn E. Browne, 1990. "Why do New Englanders work so much?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 33-46.
    2. Audrey Light, 2004. "Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 263-284, May.
    3. Catherine Weinberger & Peter Kuhn, 2006. "The Narrowing of the U.S. Gender Earnings Gap, 1959-1999: A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 12115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pedro J. Martinez Edo, 2011. "Reciprocal liberalization: Bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral?," STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    5. Krapf, Matthias & Ursprung, Heinrich W. & Zimmermann, Christian, 2017. "Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: Evidence from the groves of academe," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 147-175.
    6. Arango Luis E. & Carlos E. Posada, 2007. "Labor Participation of Married Women in Colombia," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, October.
    7. Elaine Sorensen, 1993. "Continuous Female Workers: How Different Are They from Other Women?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 15-32, Winter.
    8. Mincer, Jacob, 1985. "Intercountry Comparisons of Labor Force Trends and of Related Developments: An Overview," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-32, January.
    9. Goodfriend, Marvin & King, Robert G., 2005. "The incredible Volcker disinflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 981-1015.
    10. Abe, Yukiko, 2010. "Equal Employment Opportunity Law and the gender wage gap in Japan: A cohort analysis," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, pages 142-155.
    11. Claudia Goldin & Joshua Mitchell, 2017. "The New Life Cycle of Women's Employment: Disappearing Humps, Sagging Middles, Expanding Tops," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 161-182, Winter.
    12. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
    13. Michal Myck & Gillian Paull, 2001. "The role of employment experience in explaining the gender wage gap," IFS Working Papers W01/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    14. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:103-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Hazan, Moshe & Maoz, Yishay D., 2010. "Women's lifetime labor supply and labor market experience," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2126-2140, October.
    16. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
    17. Donna K. Ginther & Chinhui Juhn, 2001. "Employment of women and demand-side forces," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2001-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    18. Richard Johnson, 2001. "Effects of old-age insurance on female retirement : evidence from cross-country time-series data," Research Working Paper RWP 01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    19. Miguel Malo & Fernando Muñoz-Bullón, 2008. "Women’s family-related career breaks: a long-term British perspective," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 127-167, June.
    20. T. Aldrich Finegan & Robert A. Margo, 1993. "Added and Discouraged Workers in the Late 1930s: A Re-Examination," NBER Historical Working Papers 0045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Leah Platt Boustan & William J. Collins, 2014. "The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 205-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:360-380 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Steven Frank & Richard Mckenzie, 2006. "The Male-Female Pay Gap Driven by Coupling between Labor Markets and Mating Markets," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, pages 269-274.

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